On 17th of April, we were pleased to host Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Environment and Sustainability committee members, staff and some of our Councillors for morning tea at Moss Vale Community Garden. We have been partially supported in some of our initiatives by Council’s Environment Levy and we appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate and explain the role of community gardens in modelling and encouraging various aspects of environmental sustainability within our shire.
How are we demonstrating environmentally sustainable practices?
By growing organic (chemical free) food on site and encouraging our members and visitors to do the same in their own backyards
By supporting other initiatives encouraging local food production (Slow Food etc) on a major scale for future food security for the Highlands
By recycling materials into compost and mulch that would normally go into the waste stream (eg coffee grounds from a local coffee shop, lawn clippings from other gardens, shredded paper from Council offices)
By re-using tools and equipment, building materials, garden furniture etc, from Moss Vale Resource Recovery Centre and giving them a new life out of the waste stream
By building structures with renewable low embodied energy materials (strawbale shelter shed) as a model for others
By catching as much rainwater as we can store in tanks for use on our vege beds & mulching paths to reduce lawnmowing pollution
By installing solar panels for our energy requirements on site
By ‘growing’ community – being open to all people in our shire regardless of ability, age or creed and interacting with other environmental groups to strengthen local environmental education
By taking part in Council’s School’s Environment Day activities
By developing a bush tucker bed and planning for future plantings of endemic native species for wildlife habitat and garden pest control.
Here we are at the Penrose Harvest Festival, enjoying a warm, sunny day whilst we chat with visitors to the fair and sell our seedlings and fruit trees. It was a great day with lots of activities and entertainment throughout. Lunch was a pizza cooked in the large wood-fired pizza oven (almost identical to the one at Moss Vale Community Garden and built by the same artisan – Manuel Alves).
We shared a site with Bundanoon Community Garden, who kindly loaned us a gazebo for the day and who sold lots of tickets in a raffle in which third prize was a selection of vege seedlings from our gardens and which raised money for both of our community gardens. Many thanks to the Bundy group who diligently sold lots of raffle tickets.
Jill demonstrated how to create a worm tower in your vege garden to breed worms exactly where you want them – right there in the middle of the garden bed. Very easy and very successful, so long as you feed them some kitchen scraps and wet shredded paper from time to time and give them some shade through the hottest months. This worm tower looks like a red and white pine mushroom often seen growing wild in our district underneath radiata pine trees.
The weather was relatively kind compared to last year’s event and we were lucky to have a shady site for our plant stall. Our gazebo was overflowing with plants we have been propagating, ranging from various berries, dwarf heritage apples and figs to seedlings and herbs.
We love propagating unusual food crops too – like water chestnuts, cape gooseberries and taro. Our diet has been dumbed-down over previous decades and it is important that we vary our diet to maintain good health.
We had a profitable day, helped by sharing a site with our Volunteering Wingecarribee friends. Funds will go towards a replacement trailer (second-hand, of course) for the one stolen in early January.
With the support of Moss Vale Tennis Club and financial support and action of Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Environment and Sustainability Department, the five Leylandii pines were removed at the back of Moss Vale Community Garden in September, 2012.
The Community Garden had requested their removal because of the deep shade they created from midday in the western sector, particularly over winter. This made it impossible to use the area to grow food.
As we are generally opposed to the removal of trees for environmental reasons, our plan is to replace the pines with other deciduous trees which will provide shade in summer but allow light in during winter. Filbert Farm owners, Jim and Lauren Gleeson, who have actively supported the Community Garden in previous years have once again kindly donated six hazelnut trees as replacements along with a Walnut tree kindly donated by Mary Gough. The tree planting will take place over the coming months and we can’t wait for them to start growing nuts for consumption in our community.
As a consequence of the tree removal we now have a large pile of wood mulch, which we are currently recycling into paths between our raised beds to minimize mowing and whipper-snipping over the growing season.
We would like to thank all those involved – MV Tennis Club, Wingecarribee Shire Council (in particular, Kimberly Elliot) and Jim and Lauren Gleeson – who have made this significant change for the better in the future food-growing capacity of our local Community Garden.